Entrepreneurs have to deal with every facet of their business. Running a successful business has many challenges. To be successful, you have to avoid certain things.
Marketing and Customer Service are two “black holes” of business. Both are critical, but neither is ever complete. Unlike more tangible areas of your business there is no “quota” to exceed, there is no “inventory” to manage, there is no “work order” to complete.
But no matter how much is invested in Marketing and Customer Service there is always more that can be done.
After all, who doesn’t want to be the best-known company, with the best logo and tagline, with the most fun events, and the most memorable ads? Who doesn’t want to receive praise from customers or have a reputation as the “good guys?” You want to know your service is more responsive and broader than your competition.
It makes us all feel good because Marketing and Customer Service touch our pride. This doesn’t mean those things are bad, or that you shouldn’t do them. Yet with our egos on the line it is easy to do “things” and forget purpose. They become simply an indulgence – something we do to please people.
Business indulgences are very costly over the long run. Have you ever stopped a product or service when you realized there was no business return? The negative impact is often greater than the positive gain. I admit I’ve done this myself. When a vendor ceased providing a service or product I enjoyed, my disappointment caused me to search for a different vendor, sometimes choosing one who never provided that service or product in the first place!
Marketing’s core purpose is to attract new customers. If everyone knows your tagline, but no one knows what you do, that is a poor investment. If your marketing events are well attended but only by friends and not prospects – that is missing the marketing goal. Every dollar of marketing spend must have a specific target. The target is not simply leads. It should be qualified leads that have a high potential to become customers.
In today’s confusing world of social media (See this roadmap) so much can be spent on ‘being everywhere’ while accomplishing nothing. Every dime spent on marketing needs to have a specific ROI target.
Customer service’s core purpose is to ensure existing customers receive sufficient value and remain as loyal customers. If you continually receive praise that your team goes “above and beyond,” then maybe you should be wondering why that type of effort is required to do business. Every dollar spent on customer service is an investment in renewals or additional business. Return on investment (ROI) is the indicator as to whether you are doing the right things, the wrong things, or not enough. Or too much.
Neither success for marketing nor customer service can be solely measured on operational or financial metrics. But it is a mistake not to measure them at all. Otherwise they easily grow into “black holes”, sucking up everything around them. If resources are scarce in the first place, pumping money down these black holes is a bad idea. never to be seen again.
**Portions of this article have been provided by contributing author Keith Okano, owner of ClosingStrong, a business coaching firm, specializing in helping entrepreneurs growing their business. Keith is an affiliate member of HeadwayExec and is a SilverFox Advisor.